As the 6-foot-3 forward begins his sixth attempt at training camp, and trying to crack the Buffalo Sabres Opening Day roster, he says is holding himself to high expectations.
“I’ve put a lot of pressure on myself in previous years and this year I’m expecting big things,” he said. “It’s a big year for me. Next year I’m unrestricted so I’ve got to do the best I can whether I’m here in Buffalo or on waivers or in Portland; wherever I end up… Obviously my goal is to be here and that’s all I’m focusing on.”
Mancari has led Buffalo’s American Hockey League affiliate in scoring for the past three seasons, including registering 74 points (28+46) in as many games for the Portland Pirates in 2009-10. His performance in the AHL has earned him several brief call-ups to Buffalo - totaling 16 games and five points - but the numbers game has ultimately sent him back to Maine.
And while he has admittedly felt discouraged, the winger said he is taking a new approach – and using it all as motivation.
“As time goes on you kind of learn how to deal with that,” Mancari said. “In previously years I will say that I haven’t dealt with it the best. I got frustrated. But this year I’m ready to do what I have to do – whether it’s going out and trying to be a physical presence or putting some points on the board. I’m going to do whatever I have to do to be here and whatever they ask of me.”
One of the knocks against Mancari is that the 225-pound forward hasn’t used his weight enough to his advantage. It’s also one of the things he’s been working on this summer.
“I’ve been training in the areas where I felt I needed to improve,” he said. “You have to work hard on the areas that maybe aren’t getting you to the next level so that’s what I did. I went home and got to work.
“I dropped some weight and I feel a lot stronger on my feet and I feel like I’m a little bit faster than I have been in previous years. Hopefully that will help me and I think if I can keep my offensive game where it is and contribute more on the physical side and defensive part of the game, I’ll be pretty good.”
For now he is amongst the veterans of rookie camp, and helping to show the ropes to some of the new faces. After all, if anybody understands their nerves it’s Mancari.
“Yeah I’ve done this all before,” he laughed. “So I’m just going to go out, have fun and try to show the management that I deserve to be here.
“I’ve got to show them that I know what it takes.”